Funding delays hit industry

Margaret Ritchie
Margaret Ritchie

Margaret Ritchie MP has placed further pressure on the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to release the European Maritime Fisheries Fund without delay.

The MP for South Down has said the continued delay in the introduction of the European Maritime Fisheries Fund is not only unacceptable, in that it denies much needed European funding entering the local economy and fishing communities, but it has placed many regeneration and development projects in a very difficult position.

She added: “Funding is urgently required for the maintenance and development of working harbours in South Down. Many local regeneration projects that will sustain employment and create additional employment through new industries and business opportunities are being held back. The European Maritime Fisheries Fund is already up and running in Scotland and has been for a number of months. Scotland’s progress in introducing this fund proves that the delay in introducing the fund Northern Ireland cannot be blamed on the fact that we are a regional administration.

“In response to my recent representations, I have been given assurances that the Business Case for the European Maritime Fisheries Fund is now progressing through the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and making its way to the Department of Finance & Personnel for approval. However, given the intolerable delays we have experienced to date, I will continue to pursue this matter until the fund is released for the benefit of South Down’s fishing industry and communities.”